When it comes to Black hair, many of us are living on the edge—literally and figuratively. In the quest for fabulous braids, weaves, color treatments and updos, we're seeing more and more of our sisters struggling with hair loss around the hairline. Diane Bailey shares what you can do to repair breakage and ensure it doesn't happen again.
Why do our edges break off?
"Heavy brushing and wearing tight styles are the main reasons your edges break off," says Bailey. "We also like to slick our edges using gel which has a lot of alcohol. The alcohol depletes moisture and makes your fine hair on your edges more prone to breakage."
How do I know when I'm at risk of hairline breakage?
"Ladies, you know when your hair is too tight because you can feel it," says Bailey. Signs of too-tight styles are if you have redness or tiny bumps around the hairline. Also, you should never have a headache or any discomfort when you are getting your hair braided or weaved.
How can weaves and wigs affect our hairline?
"Wigs can really erode the hairline," says Bailey. "Your hair is like a plant, it needs oxygen. When you suffocate it with heavy wigs or tension from weaves, you literally deplete the hair of moisture and shrink the cuticle. Even if you wear a stocking cap, especially if it's made of nylon, it will suffocate your hairline."
What can I do to grow my edges back?
"The most important step is to change the behavior," says Bailey. "If you keep putting extensions on broken edges, they're going to continue to break and never grow in fully. There's no magic wand, but there's hope if you really desire to change your outcome."
What products will help my edges grow back?
"Try a light protein treatment mixed with moisturizer and massage it into your scalp to stimulate the growth," says Bailey. "Shea Moisture's Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque is great. You can warm it up a little bit and massage it into your scalp. Also, black castor oil is an emollient that coats the hair and scalp and it has vitamin E which helps to replenish the skin."
What will help strengthen my fragile hairline?
"Keep your hair moisturized and it will be less prone to breakage," says Bailey. "Use a steam treatment to open up the cuticle and liquify your deep conditioner so it will penetrate the hair further. Also, make sure you are lightly brushing your edges. Do not use heavy brushes on your edges. If you can't find a soft bristle brush, use a toothbrush if you feel you have to slick back your hair."
What styles work well with thin edges?
"You may be able to coil or two-strand twist the front and make it blend into fuller styles," advises Bailey. "Instead of wearing your hair back all the time, wear your hair forward for a couple of months." If you're wearing weaves and extensions, you're going to have to explore alternate options that completely take away the pressure from your hairline.
What if nothing seems to be working to grow my edges back?
"That's why we have professionals. When you feel like you're backed up against the wall and you've done everything you can do, you need to go to a specialist and get a consultation from someone who has experience in this particular area and can explain it to you. You may learn about options you've never considered," says Bailey.